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12 Solved Questions with Answers
  • Ethics - I

    1. Identify five ethical traits on which one can plot the performance of a civil servant. Justify their inclusion in the matrix.

    Ethics can be defined as a set of “moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conduct of an activity”. Ethics relates primarily to the nature of ultimate values and standards by which human actions can be judged. Ethics are subjective standard of rights and wrong.

    For a civil servant, acting ethically is of utmost importance. A civil servant is supposed to possess the virtues of objectivity and impartiality. The five ethical traits – Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Objectivity, and Selflessness – form the ethical foundation of a civil servant and other values like non-partisanship, tolerance, responsiveness can emanate from them. A matrix of ethical traits is discussed below, which is beneficial in performance evaluation of civil servants.

    Ethical Trait

    Reason for Inclusion

    Integrity

    • Important for elimination of corruption.
    • Leadership quality to act as a role model for others.
    • Best utilisation of public resources and pursuit of professional excellence.

    Compassion

    • An element of Emotional Intelligence
    • Self-motivation to work for the weak and brings empathy towards them.
    • Outcome and effectiveness orientation.

    Accountability

    • Makes administration transparent and public oriented.
    • Builds public trust and deters unethical conduct.
    • Makes civil servants answerable for their conduct and decisions.

    Objectivity

    • Decisions based on merit without personal bias.
    • Makes a civil servant impartial and non-partisanship.
    • Fairness in action and tolerance towards opposing views.
    • Efficiency orientation.

    Selflessness

    • Prevents misuse of entrusted public resources and authority.
    • Helps in resolving conflicts of interest, countering nepotism and cronyism.

     

    These traits ensure that a civil servant fulfills his professional obligation even in adverse situations. The ideal training programme for a civil servant should be a mix of ethical traits, procedural rules and practical situations.

  • Ethics - I

    2. Impact of digital technology as a reliable source of input for rational decision making is a debatable issue. Critically evaluate with suitable example.

    A decision maker is characterised by two binary relations. The first reflects decisions that are rational in an “objective” sense: the decision maker can convince others that she is right in making them. The second relation models decisions that are rational in a “subjective” sense: the decision maker cannot be convinced that she is wrong in making them. Objectivity or rationality in decision making depends upon availability, quantity and quality of data.

    Digital technology has almost become ubiquitous in all phases of the decision-making process. At the data collection stage, people use technology to access information, and this information influences the decision maker in the following decision steps. Technology helps people filter, analyse, and process information as well as formulate alternatives and evaluate them, whether consciously or unconsciously.

    Digital technologies can act as a reliable source of input for rational decision, as:

    • Big data analysis can predict future progression of an event like climate change, COVID-19 outbreak etc., which helps in rational decisions and course corrections.
    • It enables data sharing and monitoring in real time, helping in identifying bottlenecks and undertaking necessary reforms.
    • Digital technologies have also made it easier to collect and collate data and convert it using various algorithms, which can help in surveys like census, NFHS etc.
    • It also helps in integrating data and information spread across different departments, ministries and geographies, which provides a holistic picture.
    • Through correct measures and ways, it can act as a reliable source to spread information and make people aware.

    As a coin has two sides, every situation too has its pros and cons too. Digital technologies can be a reliable source, but at times, this perception changes. It can be concluded so by:

    • Digital technologies are devoid of human emotions and decisions based on such information can violate basic principles of compassion and fairness.
    • Digital technologies have resulted in targeted messages changing the attitude of recipients and manipulating them, as seen during elections.
    • Digital technology impacts decisions and leads to bounded rationality.
    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital media was the hub of unverified information creating confusions and cognitive dissonance.

    Thus, digital technology provides information but objectivity of decisions is also based on human values, attitudes and conscience.

     

  • Ethics - I

    3. What does each of the following quotations mean to you?
    (a): “Every work has got to pass through hundreds of difficulties before succeeding. Those that persevere will see the light, sooner or later.”- Swami Vivekanand

    Perseverance is the ability to sustain one’s efforts in face of immense difficulties. Perseverance is the key to success. Integrity in adulthood is built on years of value inculcation and winning over temptations of dishonesty.
    Gautam Buddha faced several austerities in his life, and through his intellectual queries and debates, he later achieved enlightenment. Swami Vivekananda was an inquisitive man. His open and inquisitive mind led him to his Guru Shree Ramkrishna Paramhans. Through his Guru, he found his mission in life. Mahatma Gandhi, in his book, ‘My Experiments with Truth’ highlighted how he was indulged in lying and stealing at a young change. But, during the freedom struggle, his approach evolved in contrasting ways.
    Vijay Vardhan who secured 104th rank in UPSC Civil Services Exam in 2018 had failed more than 35 exams before hitting the bull’s eye. The list of failures may crack any person and force them to give up on their dreams. But Vijay epitomised the adage, “What does not break you, makes you stronger.” He continued to strive for his dreams and his perseverance paid off.
    Difficulties, trial and tribulations, and failure are part of the way to success. Those who persevere see the light but those who quit, cannot.

  • Ethics - I

    4. Attitude is an important component that goes as input in the development of human being. How to build a suitable attitude needed for a public servant?

    Attitude is generally defined as the way a person responds to his or her environment, either positively or negatively. Work environment can affect a person’s attitude. An attitude is a relatively stable predisposition. It goes a long way in shaping the development of a human being.

    Attitudes provide meaning (knowledge) for life. The knowledge function refers to our need for a world which is consistent and relatively stable. This allows us to predict what is likely to happen, and so gives us a sense of control. Attitudes can help us organise and structure our experience.

    Public servants are the representatives of the government. A positive attitude is considered to be an indispensable characteristic of a public servant. Ways to build suitable attitude for a public servant:

    • Organisation and Negotiating Skills: In any role in the public sector, one will be required to juggle different projects with varying degrees of priority along with multiple stakeholders and personalities. A person may need to influence others as part of his/her role or negotiate with other departments.
    • Creativity and Flexible Thinking: The ability to adapt to change and think creatively around problems is a necessity in this field.
    • Leadership: In both the civil service and public affairs, one would be keen to learn how to become a great leader - influencing and inspiring those to act around him/her.
    • Decision-Making Ability: One would be required to make tough decisions under pressure. He/she would be someone who won’t shy away from coming up with solutions, however, difficult.
    • Teamworking Skills: One would be working with a myriad of different people with varying skills and qualities. He/she would need to know how to motivate them and work alongside them.
    • Ability to Work Alone: Part of one’s work will require independent thought and the ability to come up with solutions on his/her own. He/she would be someone who can remain focused during these times.

  • Ethics - I

    5. “Refugees should not be turned back to the country where they would face persecution or human right violation”. Examine the statement with reference to ethical dimension being violated by the nation claiming to be democratic with open society.

    The United Nations defines ‘refugee’ as a person who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.
    Under international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where he/she would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. This principle applies to all migrants at all times, irrespective of migration status.
    Human rights are undeniable rights to life, liberty and opportunity to realise one’s potential. Turning back the refugees violates their basic human rights. Most refugees suffer without any fault of their own. It goes against all ethical principles to deny them opportunity to escape violence and persecution.
    Countries often do not provide refuge for reasons of limited resources, security threats and primary responsibility towards their citizens. However, with this, they violate their responsibility as members of the global community. Besides, many refugee crises are the products of the western world. They should take historical responsibility for their actions.
    It sets wrong example for future in dehumanising refugees and refusal to recognise their suffering. Subsequently, this leads to decline in values like care, empathy and compassion in the society.

  • Ethics - I

    6. An independent and empowered social audit mechanism is an absolute must in every sphere of public service, including judiciary, to ensure performance, accountability and ethical conduct. Elaborate.

    Social Audit is the audit of a scheme jointly by the Government and the people. A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality, between efficiency and effectiveness. MGNREGA was the first Act to mandate a Social Audit by the Gram Sabha.

    Social Audit informs and educates people about their rights and entitlements. It provides a collective platform for people to ask queries, express their needs and grievances (jansunwai). It promotes people’s participation in all stages of implementation of programmes. People’s involvement makes things credible and inclusive and as a result the ethical conduct of the schemes/authorities/organisations also increase. It also brings about transparency and objectivity in government schemes and authorities become accountable to the public at large.

    In judiciary also Social Audit plays an important role:

    • Social auditing uses participatory techniques to involve all stakeholders in measuring, understanding, reporting and improving the social performance of an organisation. This way people will understand and become aware about the judicial structure and proceedings. This will also help in making judiciary more interactive and understandable to common people, thereby improving its performance and accountability.
    • Social Audit can help make judiciary reach the masses and spread awareness about it. It can help judiciary proactively take up cases of disadvantaged/vulnerable/marginalised sections of society which need help and attention.

    Even though social audit has been of great importance, it still needs awareness to increase its reach among the masses. Administrative and political cooperation is required for the better functioning of SA. A legal backing or a national law should also be considered.

  • Ethics - II

    7. Sunil is a young civil servant and has a reputation for his competence, integrity, dedication and relentless pursuit of difficult and onerous jobs. Considering his profile, he was picked up by his bosses to handle a very challenging and sensitive assignment. He was posted in a tribal dominated district notorious for illegal sand mining. Excavating sand from river belt and transporting through trucks and selling them in black market was rampant. This illegal sand mining mafia was operating with the support of local functionaries and tribal musclemen who in turn were bribing selected poor tribals and had kept the tribals under fear and intimidation.
    Sunil being a sharp and energetic officer immediately grasped the ground realities and the modus operandi followed by the mafia through their devious and dubious mechanism. On making inquiries, he gathered that some of their own office employees are in hand and glove with them and have developed close unholy nexus. Sunil initiated stringent action against them and started conducting raids on their illegal operations of movement of trucks filled with sand. The mafia got rattled as not many officers in the past had taken such strong steps against the mafia. Some of the office employees who were allegedly close to mafia informed them that the officer is determined to clean up the mafia’s illegal sand mining operations in that district and may cause them irreparable damage.
    The mafia turned hostile and launched counter-offensive. The tribal musclemen and mafia started threatening him with dire consequences. His family (wife and old mother) were stalked and were under virtual surveillance and thus causing mental torture, agony and stress to all of them. The matter assumed serious proportions when a muscleman came to his office and threatened him to stop raids, etc., otherwise, his fate will not be different than some of his predecessors (ten years back one officer was killed by the mafia).
    (a) Identify the different options available to Sunil in attending to this situation.
    (b) Critically evaluate each of the options listed by you.
    (c) Which of the above, do you think, would be the most appropriate for Sunil to adopt and why?

    The above case is about the contemporary issue of illegal sand mining, exploitation of tribal people by a few groups as well as prevalence of corrupt practices in the administrative domain.

    Various stakeholders which can be identified are:

    • Sunil (a young civil servant)
    • Sand mafia group
    • Local functionaries and tribal musclemen (helping sand mafia)
    • Sunil’s family

    (a) The different options available to Sunil are:

    • Option 1: Take actions against the mafia, local functionaries, his corrupt employees. He can ask for adequate protection by the police personnel.
    • Option 2: Withhold steps and can continue his work in the office without doing anything stringent.

    (b) The above options can have the following consequences:

    • Option 1
    • Merits:
    • Action as per law is ensured in the tribal dominated district.
    • Act as check and balance to administrative corruption prevalent in government office/department.
    • Adequate security by police personnel to his family may give him a sense of security.
    • Demerits:
    • Danger to Sunil’s family may aggravate.
    • Involvement of some employees of his office may hinder the progress of the case.

    Option 2

    • Merits:
    • Reduction of fear from the sand mafias as Sunil withheld further action.
    • Demerits:
    • It will come at the cost of degrading the law of the land.
    • Propensity of illegal sand mining will further damage the environment.
    • Goodwill of Sunil amongst his officer will drastically reduce.
    • Boost up the morale of tribal musclemen and local functionaries.

    (c) Sunil should adopt the first option. This is owing to the following reasons:

    • The decision will be in accordance with the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and Forests Rights Act, 2006.
    • This will ensure that he does his duty with utmost sincerity while checking corruption.
    • It will also protect the environment as well as the issue of local tribals.
    • It will also strengthen Sunil image of a young and energetic officer who upholds the law.

  • Ethics - II

    8. You are Vice Principal of a degree college in one of the middle-class towns. Principal has recently retired and management is looking for his replacement. There are also feelers that the management may promote you as principal. In the meantime, during annual examination the flying squad which came from the university caught two students red-handed involved in unfair means. A senior lecturer of the college was personally helping these students in this act. This senior lecturer also happens to be close to the management. One of the students was son of a local politician who was responsible in getting college affiliated to the present reputed university. The second student was son of a local businessman who has donated maximum funds for running of the college. You immediately informed the management regarding this unfortunate incident. The management told you to resolve the issue with flying squad at any cost. They further said that such incident will not only tarnish the image of the college but also the politician and businessman are very important personalities for the functioning of the college. You were also given hint that your further promotion to Principal depends on your capability in resolving this issue with flying squad. In the meantime, you were intimated by your administrative officer that certain members of the student union are protesting outside the college gate against the senior lecturer and the students involved in this incident and demanding strict action against defaulters.
    (a) Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case.
    (b) Critically examine the options available with you as Vice Principal. What option will you adopt and why?

    The above issue is the involvement of crony capitalism, grim reality of education system despite increases in budgetary allocation as well as the prevalence of maladministration and inducement for making short term gain.

    In this context, various stakeholders involved in the case:

    • Myself as Vice Principal
    • Senior lecturer (responsible for helping by unfair means)
    • Students
    • Local businessman and politician (helping college by way of affiliation and funding)
    • Flying squad
    • Management of college at large

    (a) Ethical issues involved:

    • Probity: The senior lecturer has not abided by honesty and truthfulness as well as test of integrity in the form of own interest vs professional duty.
    • Value: Whether the Vice Principal should act in a way that ensures promotion to the post of Principal or get the values of justice, probity and impartiality reflect in reality.
    • Impartiality: Conduct of examination should be fair to all. Therefore, showing favour to some students will show disfavour towards others.

    (b) Options available to me as a Vice Principal:

    • Option 1: Go according to the wish of school management, without any action against the students.
    • Merits:
    • No blockage of funding for the college in near future.
    • No harm to the dignity of college in the meanwhile.
    • Chances of me becoming principal will become more obvious.
    • Demerits:
    • Unfair to all other students of the college.
    • Procedural sanctity may be compromised.
    • My professional conduct would be at stake.
    • Won’t give good message in the long run.
    • Students protest to aggravate further more.

    Option 2: To let the authorities take strict action.

    • Merits:
    • Credibility of the college will be maintained in the long run.
    • Restrain the teacher/lecturer to take this action in future.
    • Will lead to right conduct.
    • Demerits:
    • College may face financial issues in future.
    • Endangerment to the future of two children.
    • May harm recent admissions to the college.
    • My chances of promotion will reduce significantly.

    I will go by the second option. Even though, it might bring a bad name to the college and may hinder chances of my promotion, it is the right step because:

    • College is a platform where students study moral principles. This choice will emphasise the importance of ethical behavior to students.
    • The presence of a senior lecturer in the incident stresses the need for bold action.
    • As achieving advancement through unethical means will violate the principle of integrity, it will be a violation of the chastity of means.
    • This approach will be equitable to all students who wrote their tests honestly.
    • This option will assist in quelling student protests.

  • Ethics - II

    9. An elevated corridor is being constructed to reduce traffic congestion in the capital of a particular State. You have been selected as project manager of this prestigious project on your professional competence and experience. The deadline is to complete the project in next two years by 30 June, 2021, since this project is to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister before the elections are announced in the second week of July 2021. While carrying out the surprise inspection by inspecting team, a minor crack was noticed in one of the piers of the elevated corridor possibly due to poor material used. You immediately informed the chief engineer and stopped further work. It was assessed by you that minimum three piers of the elevated corridor have to be demolished and reconstructed. But this process will delay the project minimum by four to six months. But the chief engineer overruled the observation of inspecting team on the ground that it was a minor crack which will not in any way impact the strength and durability of the bridge. He ordered you to overlook the observation of inspecting team and continue working with same speed and tempo. He informed you that the minister does not want any delay as he wants the Chief Minister to inaugurate the elevated corridor before the elections are declared. Also informed you that the contractor is far relative of the minister and he wants him to finish the project. He also gave you hint that your further promotion as additional chief engineer is under consideration with the ministry. However, you strongly felt that the minor crack in the pier of the elevated corridor will adversely affect the health and life of the bridge and therefore it will be very dangerous not to repair the elevated corridor.
    (a) Under the given conditions, what are the options available to you as a project manager?
    (b) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by the project manager?
    (c) What are the professional challenges likely to be faced by the project manager and his response to overcome such challenges?
    (d)  What can be the consequences of overlooking the observation raised by the inspecting team?

    Stakeholders in the case:

    • Myself as a project manager
    • Chief engineer of the project
    • Inspecting team (who noticed minor crack)
    • Minister (asking not to delay)
    • Chief Minister (who is going to inaugurate the elevated corridor)
    • Contractor

    (a) Options available to me as the project manager are as under:

    • I can go ahead with the work, as advised by my superior.
    • I can go deep into the issue, and bring the matter with political leadership itself.
    • As I believe that the quality of the project is not up to standard, I can request my transfer from the project to avoid the responsibility.

    (b) Ethical dilemma faced by the project manager are as under:

    • Own Benefit vs Public Benefit: Moving forward with the project will almost certainly result in a promotion, but it may also put the lives of countless residents in grave danger.
    • Right Method vs Right End: While moving on with the project will ensure a timely inauguration and my promotion, it will compromise the quality of the resources used.
    • Administrative Ethics vs Work Efficiency: While the project manager will be praised for his efficiency for completing the project on time, it will jeopardise his administrative ethics.

    (c) Professional challenges likely to be faced by the project manager are as under:

    • Pressure from Seniors: Asked by the chief engineer to continue work.
    • Political Upheaval: The contractor is a minister’s relative, and the CM wants to inaugurate the project before the elections.
    • Career Prospects: My career will depend upon how I choose to complete the project.
    • Liability: If the project fails and the bridge collapses, the project manager may face a departmental or judicial investigation.
    • Administrative Corruption: As the material used was of poor quality, the project manager faces the challenge of tackling corruption in his department.

    The project manager can overcome these challenges by:

    • Presenting a full report on his findings to the CM, the concerned ministry and the chief engineer.
    • Investigating the quality of the materials used and, if an abnormality is discovered, issuing a show cause notice to the parties involved.

    (d) The consequences of overlooking the observations of the inspecting team could be:

    • The corridor could fall, posing a serious threat to the lives and property of the inhabitants.
    • The project will face a higher cost and schedule overrun as a result of the collapse, as the entire project will have to be restarted from scratch.
    • The project’s failure will reflect badly on the department as well as the State’s political leadership.

  • Ethics - II

    10. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has quickly spread to various countries. As on May 8th, 2020, in India 56342 positive cases of corona had been reported. India with a population of more than 1.35 billion had difficulty in controlling the transmission of coronavirus among its population. Multiple strategies became necessary to handle this outbreak. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India raised awareness about this outbreak and to take all necessary actions to control the spread of COVID-19. Indian Government implemented a 55-day lockdown throughout the country to reduce the transmission of the virus. Schools and colleges had shifted to alternative mode of teaching-learning-evaluation and certification. Online mode became popular during these days.
    India was not prepared for a sudden onslaught of such a crisis due to limited infrastructure in terms of human resource, money and other facilities needed for taking care of this situation. This disease did not spare anybody irrespective of caste, creed, religion on the one hand and ‘have and have not’ on the other. Deficiencies in hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, ambulances, hospital staff and crematorium were the most crucial aspects.
    You are a hospital administrator in a public hospital at the time when coronavirus had attacked large number of people and patients were pouring into hospital day in and day out.
    (a) What are your criteria and justification for putting your clinical and non-clinical staff to attend to the patients knowing fully well that it is highly infectious disease and resources and infrastructure are limited?
    (b) If yours is a private hospital, whether your justification and decision would remain same as that of a public hospital?

    (a) Following would be the criteria considered for putting clinical and non-clinical staff at work:

    • The preferred staff would be of the age group which is considered to have the highest strength and immunity to deal with the virus (as directed by scientific studies and doctors).
    • Staff who are suffering from the problem of co-morbidities would be kept away from clinical work and will be preferred to do non-clinical work and medical insurance would be made mandatory.
    • Staff with age of 50 years or above would not be involved in the clinical duties or direct contact with the patients.
    • The clinical and nonclinical staff would be divided on the basis of merit and expertise to hand over the critical situations and make the hospital ready to deal with the caseload and prevent the collapse of health infrastructure.

    Following justification can be given to put the staff at work in such a severe situation:

    • Compassion: The people are suffering, losing their loved ones and children are becoming orphaned. All these generate sympathy for them and cry for compassion.
    • Responsibility: As I’m a public servant, it is my duty to serve the public and as the administrator of the hospital I will motivate my staff to fulfill their duty with utmost dedication and sincerity.
    • Public Good: Hospitals are meant to serve the needy and in such severe situations when people are losing their life, the medical staff and hospital cannot step back from their oath of saving people’s life or working for the public good.
    • Empathy: The heart-wrenching conditions of the public will motivate me to serve the patients with more zeal, so that more and more people’s lives can be saved.
    • Utilitarianism: Actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority, and benefit of the majority lies in larger public interest; treatment of patients.
    • Contentment: Serving the patients, saving people’s life, fulfilling one’s duty with honesty, helping the medical infrastructure to sustain, will bring satisfaction and happiness within oneself.

    (b) As an administrator of a private hospital, I would have adopted all the same measures as adopted in a public hospital. Additionally, I would have taken other steps viz.:

    • I would have tried my level best to arrange the best equipment, protective gears and facilities for my staff (like PPE kits, testing kits) and maintain staff’s workload properly with proper rest to remain mentally and physically stable.
    • If in any case any casualty happens among the staff members, proper compensation would be given to their family members and free education provided to their children.
    • I would try to get my staff fully vaccinated as soon as possible and get their health checkup and tests done on a regular basis.

    Serving as administrator either in public or private hospital will give me an opportunity to fulfill my ethical conduct with utmost honesty and integrity. It will give me a chance to serve my country in the best possible manner.

     

  • Ethics - II

    11. A reputed food product company based in India developed a food product for the international market and started exporting the same after getting necessary approvals. The company announced this achievement and also indicated that soon the product will be made available for the domestic consumers with almost same quality and health benefits. Accordingly, the company got its product approved by the domestic competent authority and launched the product in Indian market. The company could increase its market share over a period of time and earn substantial profit both domestically and internationally. However, the random sample test conducted by inspecting team found the product being sold domestically in variance with the approval obtained from the competent authority. On further investigation, it was also discovered that the food company was not only selling products which were not meeting the health standard of the country but also selling the rejected export products in the domestic market. This episode adversely affected the reputation and profitability of the food company.
    (a) What action do you visualise should be taken by the competent authority against the food company for violating the laid down domestic food standard and selling rejected export products in domestic market?
    (b) What course of action is available with the food company to resolve the crisis and bring back its lost reputation?
    (c) Examine the ethical dilemma involved in the case.

    (a) Following actions should be taken by the competent authority against the food company for violating food standards:

    • It should be directed to take back all substandard products already launched in the market and should be made to pay adequate compensation to consumers.
    • Proportionate punitive action should be taken as per the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act.
    • Additionally, the company should also be asked to contribute a significant amount of money in campaigns for raising public awareness on FSSAI norms.

    (b) Course of action available with the food company to resolve the crisis and bring back its lost reputation:

    • Fully cooperate in investigation and serve punishments prescribed by the law for selling substandard food products.
    • Order an external audit by a reputed organisation to pinpoint the fault and fix accountability within the organisation.
    • The top management of the company should tender a public apology and come clean on what went wrong and what remedial actions are being taken. This will assure the public that management is serious about the issue.
    • Ensure that the planned course of action is adhered to and periodically monitor the progress.

    (c) Ethical dilemmas involved in the case:

    • Shareholder’s Profit vs Heath of Consumer: This dilemma would have been faced by the food product company. It might have prioritised profit of the shareholders over the health of the consumer. This was a bad decision as ultimately both were affected.
    • Long vs Short Term Gain of Shareholders: Selling substandard food might have increased profit for the company and hence shareholders in the short term, however because of tarnished reputation, shareholders will be facing a long-term loss in revenue term.
    • Standard for Domestic vs International Consumers: The company would have arrived at the conclusion that rejected products do not meet domestic standards because standards were too high. In their opinion, food products were still safe. However, if this was the case, the company should have raised this technical point with the regulator and tried to get the standard rationalised instead of breaching the law.
    • Law vs Public Trust: Cases like this might create trust deficit between the whole food product industry and the consumers. This may hurt the economy and lead to employment loss for many. However, the regulator did well to take a long-term view and followed the law. Eventually the public will trust the system if only it knows that the regulator is keeping an eye on the quality of the product.

     

  • Ethics - II

    12. Pawan is working as an officer in the State Government for the last ten years. As a part of routine transfer, he was posted to another department. He joined in a new office along with five other colleagues. The head of the office was a senior officer conversant with the functioning of the office. As a part of general inquiry, Pawan gathered that his senior officer carries the reputation of being difficult and insensitive person having his own disturbed family life. Initially, all seemed to go well. However, after some time Pawan felt that the senior officer was belittling him and at times unreasonable. Whatever suggestions given or views expressed by Pawan in the meetings were summarily rejected and the senior officer would express displeasure in the presence of others. It became a pattern of boss’ style of functioning to show him in bad light highlighting his shortcomings and humiliating publicly. It became apparent that though there were no serious work-related problems/shortcomings, the senior officer was always on one pretext or the other and would scold and shout at him. The continuous harassment and public criticism of Pawan resulted in loss of confidence, self-esteem and equanimity. Pawan realised that his relation with his senior officer was becoming more toxic and due to this, he felt perpetually tensed, anxious and stressed. His mind was occupied with negativity and caused him mental torture, anguish and agony. Eventually, it badly affected his personal and family life. He was no longer joyous, happy and contented even at home. Rather without any reason he would lose his temper with his wife and other family members. The family environment was no longer pleasant and congenial. His wife who was always supportive to him also became a victim of his negativity and hostile behaviour. Due to harassment and humiliation suffered by him in the office, comfort and happiness virtually vanished from his life. Thus, it damaged his physical and mental health.
    (a) What are the options available with Pawan to cope with the situation?
    (b) What approach Pawan should adopt for bringing peace, tranquility and congenial environment in the office and home?
    (c) As an outsider, what are your suggestions for both boss and subordinate to overcome this situation and for improving the work performance, mental and emotional hygiene?
    (d) In the above scenario, what type of training would you suggest for officers at various levels in the government offices?

    The presented case study exhibits the case of abuse of authority, lack of emotional intelligence, poor work culture and inability to demarcate between personal and professional life.
    (a) Following options are available to Pawan to cope up with the situation:

    • Address the root cause of the problem and talk with his senior about issues he is facing.
    • He may take leave from office, discuss the issue with his colleagues in other services and then re-join. This will give a short respite to Pawan, but the problem will continue.
    • He may seek transfer to another department, which might be an administrative decision, with little control of Pawan over it.
    • Ignore his senior at work, which will affect his coordination and quality of work. This may also show him as incompetent.
    • The last resort may be to resign from his current position. This will highlight his attitude of escapism and lack of courage. His personal responsibilities would also suffer.

    (b) Approach Pawan should adopt

    • At office:
    • He should introspect his behaviour, as to whether his actions are annoying his senior and what is the behaviour of his senior towards other newly transferred colleagues. This will give him a thought clarity.
    • Pawan should try talking to his seniors (boss’ colleagues) and explain his actions and at the same time understand his boss’ temperament. This will give opportunity for course correction to Pawan and his senior.
    • If both the above suggestions do not work out, then Pawan should lodge a written complaint to his boss’ senior and make the superior boss aware of all the happenings.
    • At home:
    • Pawan should try segregating his professional and personal life. He should evolve his emotional intelligence quotient.
    • He should talk to his family members, wife about the issues he is facing at the workplace. The family members should try to understand and support him through his difficulties. This will bring peace, tranquility, and a congenial environment both at his office and at home.

    (c) As an outsider, my suggestion

    • To boss:
    • One should act and behave as a leader and represent himself/herself as an example. Developing emotional intelligence in this aspect is very necessary.
    • Subordinates are the working force behind every organisation. As an authority/senior, one must respect the subordinates or the juniors.
    • Constructive criticism goes a long way in shaping an organisation or one’s life. Belittling someone to show oneself as superior always gives out a bad example.
    • Appreciating good work is not only ethically warranted but also creates positive energy amongst team members.
    • To subordinates:
    • Do not let the professional and personal life merge. Work related issues should not hamper the personal space and vice-versa.
    • Nothing comes above self-respect. Constructive criticism is welcomed, but not demeaning. When at workplace, one should work with utmost dedication and commitment.

    (d) Following types of training can be given to the officers in government offices:

    • Sensitivity Training: Officials should be sensitised about how their actions impact people around them. Mental health issues should be kept in mind.
    • Role-playing Training: To be a people’s officer or a successful bureaucrat, one must investigate the situation from other’s perspective and understand their problems and constraints. This will always provide a constructive decision in decision making.
    • Assertiveness Training: Officials should exercise authority without being condescending to others. They should build team spirit and foster cooperation.
    • Communication Training: Using verbal and non-verbal cues for effective communication. The motive of this is to increase positivity in outlook, promote inclusiveness and make work culture conducive for performance.

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